This weekend was officially our last weekend in DC. And we spent it with (almost all of our friends), but the more time I spent with friends, the more confused I became about life.
First, we went to Mr. B’s friend and now ex-coworker at his house in the DC suburbs. He and his wife have a beautiful house and two very, very cute little boys. Mr. B’s other friends and ex-coworkers were there, and they are also all married and either have kids or are thinking about them very soon. They live relatively far away from DC, far away enough that they can’t get in to see, say, the Kennedy Center at night, but that doesn’t matter, because being close to DC is not a priority for them. Family is. Their house is full of love and the chaos that comes with having two small kids.
If you want to have this sort of atmosphere, you have to live far away from the city. While the women were sitting in the kitchen, the conversation turned to childcare. “I quit my job. I just couldn’t justify the two-hour commute and by the time I got to work and paid for childcare, the net sum I made was less than if I stayed home,” one said. “We’re thinking about kids in the near future, but I want to start my own business and I can’t do that if we have kids. So I want to, but it’s going to be a long wait for my business to get off the ground.”
Second, we went to an engagement party in one of my favorite neighborhoods in DC, Adams Morgan, for my two ex-coworkers, who also turned later into really, really good friends, and all of my other ex-coworkers, who also turned into really good friends were there. They are all not married or in serious relationships and kids are very, very far off. They are doing awesome, exciting things like working for IMF/World Bank, getting their advanced degrees, and traveling to Ghana and Brunei. We talked about Patrice Lumumba, why diamonds are overpriced, think tanks, and how one of us had accidentally eaten goat while she was in India. You know. The shit I love.
Then my friend, the engaged one, said her future mother-in-law had already asked her when they were planning to have kids. My engaged friend is kickass at her job and loves it, so it won’t be anytime soon. On the one hand, I was angry on her behalf that she was having to field these questions, but on the other, I was sad because I know my friends would make great parents and her job shouldn’t have to preclude her from setting priorities. And then I became angry at myself that I was sad, because this is the exact type of stuff that I don’t want to hear from other people.
When we got home on Saturday night, I thought about both of our groups of friends, and how conflicted I was because I want to be both of those groups of friends. I want everything, and it is so unfair to women that we can’t have it but that men don’t give this a second thought. If I could count the number of times just this weekend alone that I was asked when Mr. B and I are having kids, I could cry.
When I fumed to him about it, he laughed it off. “Did anyone ask YOU when we were having kids?” I asked. He remained quiet. Because, obviously, it’s never up to the guy. But what if I want to have a big happy family in a safe suburban environment AND I want to go to Israel and become an Israeli ice cream specialist? Or a train specialist that has to travel to Turkmenistan? Or a fruit specialist that has to fly to Finland? It doesn’t work that way, I’m learning. Even if modern feminism says it does and it should, biology says SCREW YOU.
So, as we are closing in on day 0 in DC and beginning day 1 in Philadelphia together, it seems like, by not being able to choose both roads, I am taking one. But really, I’m taking it as a challenge to split that one road into two more smaller, winding, paths and see what the hell happens.